Mask-printing effort grows with support from DHEC and other institutions
The effort began when West Courtney, a Conway native and senior student at the Citadel in Charleston, and Will Turner, a CCU board of trustees member connected.
"My business innovation professor James Bezjian was part of the group that started this," said Courtney. "After talking with him, I got involved and started trying to find others to help with the project, and that's when I got in touch with Coastal and Will Turner."
CCU President David A. DeCenzo then publicly encouraged other institutions in South Carolina to put their 3D printers to work toward the cause, also.
Since then, the S.C. Commission for Higher Education (CHE) applied for and received funds from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to support state universities in printing the masks.
"This is a great example of how students and leaders are working together to leverage higher education's research and development power during a crisis to change people's lives, impact public health and help our medical professionals who are on the front line," said Dr. Rusty Monhollon, CHE's president and executive director. "We're excited about expanding this project statewide by tapping into the idle printing capacity at all public institutions. DHEC is providing crucial financial support that will ensure the institutions have the material necessary to print the equipment."
Courtney said several school systems have joined the initiative since it was first launched in the beginning of April, including Williamsburg and Berkeley County Schools, and South Carolina State University is in the process of getting printers.
"I'm thrilled that Coastal Carolina University had the opportunity to be a leader in this important endeavor," said DeCenzo. "This project shows how we can all come together in innovative ways in times of great need to provide a service that directly and immediately impacts those on the front lines."
As of April 7, Courtney said around 40 3D-printed masks had been delivered so far and hopes that number will climb to 100 by the end of the week.